cover image Bonsey and Isabel

Bonsey and Isabel

Michael J. Rosen. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-209813-1

Rosen's (The Greatest Table) characteristically earnest tones turn mawkish in this self-consciously sensitive story. Isabel, an El Salvadoran girl, is adopted by an American couple who live in the country (``on Sunbury Road'') with oodles of animals. Like the animals, Isabel cannot understand the English of the adults: ``And so Isabel spent her summer listening to the animals who showed her all they knew about the place.'' She grows close to Bonesy, the old retriever, to whom she feeds dinner scraps. One night Bonesy dies while under the supper table, and Isabel is joined under the table by her new parents; silent mourning overcomes their language barrier. This introspective story may hold little interest for children (and the maudlin ending is a real eye-roller for adults). Ransome's (Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt) oil paintings capably represent the setting but, like the prose, fail to communicate real emotions. Ages 4-12. (Apr.)